Louis Vuitton’s Female Icons

HISTORY OF AN ICON - Aug 31st 2017

From Empress Eugénie to Catherine Deneuve with Lauren Bacall, Greta Garbo, and Sophia Coppola in between, a number of women have inspired and lent their aura to Louis Vuitton’s creations.

Louis Vuitton’s Female Icons

Louis Vuitton’s heritage is undeniably engraved in the quality of its pieces, but it’s also incarnated in the traits of many a female icon. The first of them was Empress Eugénie. In 1854, the wife of Louis Napoléon Bonaparte tasked Louis Vuitton with confectioning her personal baggage. One century later, the trunker’s reputation was still in tact, and figures of the new aristocracy would flock to the brand. Owning a Louis Vuitton trunk became a sign of belonging to a certain social category. Trunks made for stars like Greta Garbo, Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, or singer Mary Garden all remind us of the manufacturer’s attachment to female icons.

When Louis Vuitton became the spearhead of luxury giant LVMH in the 90s, they decided to turn towards women’s ready-to-wear, initiated by American designer Marc Jacobs. From the time of his arrival in 1997, the designer wouldn’t hesitate to imbue the brand with the aura of his chosen muses. Among them are those who initiated the expression “top model”: Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. Marc Jacobs would call her “the muse of a generation. She defines a time, a sentiment that today is part of history.” Kate Moss did indeed make history during a spectacular runway show for Fall/Winter 2011 - she closed the show done up as a spy, a cigarette in her hand.

But Jacobs’ muses are not all in the fashion sphere: actresses have also lent their charisma to this trunkmaker-cum-couturier. Uma Thurman, Scarlett Johansson, and Angelina Jolie are all among the familiar faces of the brand’s women’s campaigns, along with Laetitia Casta, Catherine Deneuve, Madonna, Sofia Coppola… “I met Sofia Coppola in 1992. Sofia was one of the rare few to recognize something special and to get tied up in what I was doing then. She wanted to meet me, and when we did, it was love at first sight for me!” confessed Marc Jacobs. In 2009, the friendship between the two would be set in stone in an eponymous bag. During a visit to the historic Louis Vuitton ateliers in Asnières, when Sofia Coppola wanted to make a special order, she didn’t imagine that it would inspire the creative director to create a very personal style. The SC bag was born from an impromptu encounter between a director and an iconic bag’s silhouette - the result: one of the brand’s key styles made of subtly grained cashmere veal leather.

With the arrival of Nicolas Ghesquière, the brand became more of an ultra-contemporary label with a strong heritage. Their female icons had changed little: “The woman that I imagined was more relaxed […] There’s no one woman, there’s 100, 1,000. Actually, LV’s campaigns highlight women that are very different from each other. But it’s true that, in my eyes, she’ll always have a bit of Charlotte Gainsbourg, a bit of Jennifer Connelly, and a bit of Delphine Arnault also.” Louis Vuitton’s female icons are strong, multi-faceted, and rebellious women. Some examples? “Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, my science-fiction heroine,” declared the current creative director. You could also add Doona Bae, Hélène Fillières, Brit Marling, and Rinko Kikuchi. The connecting thread for these women is Catherine Deneuve, the most loyal of these exemplary women.

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